The hundred faces of creeping thistle

Photos: Arne Ader
Translation: Liis
Creeping thistle
Creeping thistle   Põldohakas    Cirsium arvense
A quite common plant in Estonian nature but with an exceptionally variable exterior.
The shape and size of the plant, the look and thorniness of the leaves, the shape and number of thorns, the colour of the flowers … can vary. The whole list of differences depends on the actual habitat – the creeping thistle prefers rich and clayey soil but grows even in shore pebbles and those plants are really astonishingly different.
The weed that grows in fields has soft leaves and is only little prickly, often the spines may be absent altogether from the stems.
On the seashore the plants have more thorns and often outright thorny ”wings” occur on the plant stems – according to plant-learned people it is a primitive variety of thistle growing in nature and called ”needle thistle”.
We see creeping thistles still flowering in September and insects like to visit the plants – flowerers have become few by that time. Creeping thistle grows in almost all habitats influenced by humans: fields, meadows, gardens, road verges, waste land, fire sites, refuse areas ...
It is a weed difficult to fight.
Hommik heinamaal




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